Challengers take Stewart to primary for Vancouver City Council Position 2

Third-term council member won easily in past campaigns

By Stephanie Rice, Columbian Vancouver city government reporter

Published:

 

Vancouver City Council Position 2

Jeanne Stewart

Age: 66.

Occupation: Manufacturers’ sales representative.

Notable endorsements: Stewart says she doesn’t solicit endorsements. Clark County Commissioner David Madore posted his support for her on his Facebook page.

Money raised: $3,200 (as of July 9).

Website:http://jeannestewart.org.

Ty Stober

Age: 42.

Occupation: Initiative manager, Northwest Efficiency Energy Alliance.

Notable endorsements: State Sen. Annette Cleveland. D-Vancouver, former State Sen. Craig Pridemore, D-Vancouver, former Vancouver City Councilor Pat Jollota.

Money raised: $17,103 (as of July 9).

Website:http://votety.com.

Alishia Topper

Age: 35.

Occupation: Senior director of development, Fort Vancouver National Trust.

Notable endorsements: Former State Rep. Val Ogden, D-Vancouver, former Vancouver Mayor Royce Pollard and Steve Hansen, businessman and philanthropist.

Money raised: $18,296 (as of July 9).

Website:http://electtopper.com.

Vancouver City Councilor Jeanne Stewart has breezed through elections since winning her first four-year term in 2001. She had one opponent in 2005 and one opponent in 2009, and won by a large margin each time.

This year, she'll be on the primary ballot for the first time since 2001.

Ty Stober, an initiative manager for Northwest Efficiency Energy Alliance, and Alishia Topper, senior director of development for the Fort Vancouver National Trust, have each raised more than $15,000, according to the Public Disclosure Commission. Stewart, as of July 9, had $3,200 in her campaign fund.

Council seats are nonpartisan, but Stewart and Councilor Bill Turlay are the most conservative members of the council and several Democrats, such as state Rep. Jim Moeller, have endorsed both Stober and Topper in the primary.

Stewart said she does not solicit endorsements. On Monday, Clark County Commissioner David Madore posted his support for Stewart on his Facebook page.

The top two finishers in the Aug. 6 primary will advance to the Nov. 5 general election.

Delivering public safety services in the most cost-efficient manner, attracting new businesses to the city, supporting existing businesses and grappling with maintaining parks in the face of budget cuts are priorities for all three candidates.

Stewart's stances

Under state law, police and fire services are among top priorities for the city, but they are expensive, Stewart said.

"We look for ways to change how we do things and we are actually having some pretty good success," said Stewart, citing the fire department's recent six-month test of responding to low-level medical calls in an SUV rather than a fire engine. The department used two SUVs that had been driven by administrators.

As far as parks go, Stewart said the city has cut as much as it can and users are seeing a gradual decline in services.

Last year, city voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to form a metropolitan parks district that would have created a dedicated funding stream for parks and recreation.

Since 2008, the number of full-time employees at the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Department has been cut in half. Parks now receive approximately 6 percent of the city's general fund, down from 10 to 11 percent.

Maintaining community parks and community centers is key, she said, "because those become the hearts of our community."

If elected to a fourth term, Stewart said, another priority will be finding road funding, both for capital projects and maintenance and operations. Unlike Clark County, which has a separate road fund, the city pays for roads out of its general fund.

She said the council will discuss funding possibilities. "I'm anxious to hear what some of the proposals are," Stewart said.

Challengers' concerns

Her challengers share her concerns, but emphasize a need for new ideas on the council.

Stober said he decided to run because he feels the city "has hit a plateau."

"We need new leaders

on city council who will work together, developing a vision for what our city can become," he said.

Sidewalks are a priority for Stober.

"There's no money to build them," he acknowledged. He stressed the need for "looking for every single grant" to be able to incorporate them into road projects.

Topper, too, said she would bring a fresh perspective and cohesiveness to the council. As two examples of her priorities, she said the city should enhance community action programs, such as Neighbors on Watch, and focus on infrastructure improvements that will attract businesses.

City councilors currently earn $1,781 a month and receive health benefits.


Stephanie Rice: 360-735-4508 or stephanie.rice@columbian.com.